I often say that raising a child to eat well and feel good in their body is about empowering your child, not overpowering them with rules and discipline.
The stand point that it’s a parents job to make their child eat right, doesn’t work.
What does work is making the shift from believing our role is to ensure they eat the right food at each meal, to… providing a variety of foods, plenty of food, and an environment in which they can learn what works best for them.
This idea is important to remember, because it influences what I cover in this post, an even bigger, even more hidden challenge
we need to get comfortable with if we want to raise a body confident child.
It’s the loudly communicated rule that it’s our job to keep our child within an acceptable size range. There is an unchecked – but widely believed – assumption that if our child gets “too big”, we as the parent are ultimately responsible.
A dr might say – it’s time you made some changes.
Or a poster might say – Simple rules for a healthy weight home – as if the rules you enforce at home are what determines your child’s shape and size in the long run.
So let’s look at whether we parents actually have the kind of power required to control the size and shape of our children.
Firstly, as Dr Wolrich tells us, a UK Foresight report identified over 100 different factors that influence the weight a human ends up being. What our child eats and how much they move make up for less than ten of those factors. The other 90 are cultural, biological, environmental and genetic and sit outside our influence. And remember, we can’t make a children eat anything anyway, so there’s also that.
Secondly, we have over eight decades of research telling us that only 5% of those who attempt weight loss, achieve it in the long run. The other 95% will either put back on the initial weight they lost or gain even more than they started with.
Because of these two things, I’ll be bold enough to say, the size a child’s body ends up, is almost entirely out of our hands – and theirs.
So…The unseen challenge is this: Many of us fear our children getting bigger, because of the pressure on us to make them fit within a so-called healthy weight range.
But, can you see where this pressure leads?
Trying to affect the size of a child now or in the future…
Leads to – trying to make them eat in a certain way
Which leads to – power struggles with that child
Which leads to – potential eating & body image issues in said child.
As I’ve mentioned before, trying to control what a kid eats instead of giving them agency, doesn’t work.
If we try to limit or restrict what our kid eats, because we believe it’s our job to control their size, they are likely to feel shame and guilt about their body, as well as what they eat.
As hard as it may be to hear, our best intentions when it comes to getting them to eat right, done in the name of keeping them within a “healthy” weight range, can be the very thing that triggers poor body confidence to begin with.
Rising to this unseen challenge by shifting our beliefs about our ability to affect to our child’s weight is necessary, if we want to raise a body confident kid.
Many parents I’ve worked with have risen to the challenge using the tools from the Raising Body Confident Kids parenting course. Their kids longer sneak food or say they hate their fat legs. They talk to their parents about body-positivity and shuck off social beauty expectations and even walk around with their chests puffed up believing in themselves, where before they were dogged by anxiety.
I want you to have these tools too!
If you’re already enrolled in the course you can visit Module One, Lesson Four (a new perspective on Health and Weight) and all of Module Three (food and mealtimes, from battles to freedom) to refresh yourself with the tools.
For those not enrolled, but ready to learn, you can find out about the Raising Body Confident Kids parenting course here.
It’s such a pleasure to support you on your parenting for body confidence journey!
Like what you’ve just read? Get the free Raising Body Confident Kids 3 part training series (5 mins each), plus weekly-ish coaching emails.